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Americans have been lighting up for more than 3000 years, ancient pipe reveals

In the late 1930s, archaeologists in northern Alabama rushed to excavate a now-submerged Native American site at the confluence of the Flint and Tennessee rivers, racing the rising tide brought on by the newly built Guntersville Dam. Dozens of artifacts were discovered, then sealed up in paper bags and kept at the Alabama State Repository. There they gathered dust until 70 years later, when a team of archaeologists and chemists came looking for a particular item noted in the repository catalog: FS74, an engraved smoking pipe or “medicine tube,” carved from limestone.

With the support of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the researchers had been examining ancient Native American pipes for years, using a chemical analysis technique called mass spectrometry to look for traces of plant material left behind. Their hunt, which was meant to shed light on the religious and ritualistic history of smoking, had already yielded tobacco and jimsonweed residue in pipes dating back a few hundred years.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/americans-have-been-lighting-more-3000-years-ancient-pipe-reveals

 

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